RicelandMeadows


Yanking The Fire
March 17, 2015, 10:30 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Letting her rip

Letting her rip

March 17, 2015

St Patrick’s day boil. We gathered this afternoon. We didn’t get as much sap as I thought we would. The temperature was warm yesterday, but no sunshine. The good news is that lots of snow melted! I think from here on out, the sap should run like mad.

Anyway, I fired up today with the small amount of sap that we had. I had a great boil going. Everything was working out well. I knew that I was about to run out of sap, so I slowed down. I quit adding wood to the firebox. I sat down for a bit and watched the steam rise to the roof. I started thinking that wow, I really had a head of steam up.

I climbed the ladder to check the level in the head tank. I reached into the tank to feel because the steam fogged my glasses too much to see. I rammed my fingers into the bottom of the tank, twice! First because I couldn’t see, the second time because I couldn’t believe it! The tank was empty!

I ran for the door of the sugarhouse, the steel shovel and my OS buckets. I started shoveling the burning wood out into the water puddles outside. I worked like a coal miner who owed a bundle to the company store. I had the fire pulled in record time. My OS buckets amount to 3 five gallon buckets of sap, kept for just this purpose. The OS stands for “Oh Sh*t” buckets…and believe me, first you say it…then you do it!

In just a few minutes the crisis had passed. The level of the hot sap was deep enough for the heat left in the firebrick. The fire removed from the firebox, the danger of burning everything up was gone. I sat down and watched the whole thing cool down. I sipped a cup of sap tea and petted my dog. My nerves were returned to normal, everything was well, thanks to yanking the fire 😮



Sappy Day
March 12, 2015, 8:49 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
My son and his wife having a sweet day at the farm

My son and his wife having a sweet day at the farm

March 12, 2015

We spent much of the morning cleaning, straightening up and making ready to cook sap. I am very tired even with all the help. My daughter-in-law Becky helped me a bunch. In the afternoon, Josh and Becky helped me gather a few bags on some of the first tress we tapped that were out in the sun. The bags were not clear full but would be by mid-day tomorrow.

As we finished for the day and started to the house, I snapped this picture. It wasn’t too long ago when these two had their first date here on the farm. Josh took his bride to be, fishing for catfish. On their second date, he took her coon hunting…it’s been nothing but bliss since then 😮  So why not another sweet day on the farm?

Weather is on a roller coaster, just what we want for the sap to run. The trees however are simply staying clamed up. Just a few drips in the afternoon so far, but I fear when they start, it will be like someone opened a faucet! I sure hope we are ready for the outpouring of goodness!

I am busting my butt in the meantime, trying to think of everything that could need a spare. Making sure we have enough containers, filters and all the other stuff. I have tried a couple new things that didn’t work. I even tried to make a set of wheels to haul my old tired butt around, but so far its just a prototype…. so I keep dragging it like usual.

Oh well, soon we will be smelling the steam and living the dream. The season may be short, but it will be sweet, just like love that blossoms on a coon hunt!



The Sap Is Running
March 11, 2015, 9:27 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Clearly it begins...

Clearly it begins…

March 11, 2015

Today was a much better day than yesterday, as far as walking through the woods. The snow was still deep, but softer. I could move my feet without having to lift my knees to my chin 😮  It was still a very tiring, yet satisfying day. We tapped quite a few more. Our total is now 691. We will tap the last 109 down by the river, once we know it won’t flood us out.

The sap is starting to run. The big trees and trees in the shade are still being stingy, as they wait for the sun and thaw out. The weather is looking good for the next few days for us maple syrup guys. The snow is melting slow, which is a very good thing. There is so much of it, that if it all melted at once…some guy might start gathering animals two by two!

Tomorrow will be a big clean up day as we get everything ready to start boiling. The clean up done last spring is just a memory. I have some help coming so the job shouldn’t be too bad. We will boil water just to make sure all is well. I usually do a test boil a couple of weeks before the season, but this year has us right up against the wall. To say the least… I am scrambling!!!

I love this season. It is my passion. I like every thing about it….the only thing sweeter than the maple syrup made in my sugarhouse…are the memories!

 



Time to Tap!
March 8, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Here we go!

Here we go!

March 8, 2015

Here we go, the 2015 maple syrup season is off and running! Two days ago it was -9 degrees F. Today it is 40 F. I will get started tomorrow. The horses and equipment are ready to go. We will start tapping hoping to finish by the end of the day on Tuesday. There are lots of things to do, but so starts my favorite time of the year!

The snow has been settling, melting from the bottom up. It is still a little deep in the woods, but melting fast. The frozen trees will soon start waking up. I hope to be all ready when they do. The steam will be rising by the end of the week no doubt.

The weather looks like it will beat us up with sap, but hey…that is what it is all about!



Not This Week!
February 22, 2015, 11:21 am
Filed under: February 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Ready, Willing & Waiting

Ready, Willing & Waiting

February 22, 2015

The cold will continue for the next ten days. I have cancelled my vacation for the upcoming week, choosing instead to take it the end of March. Hopefully I won’t have to move it to April 😮

I tried to take a walk through the woods yesterday afternoon. It didn’t take too long to abandon that idea. The snow is deep, mealy and has a crust several inches down that cracks you on the shins with every step. It is very laborious just trying to walk, tapping trees will take extreme effort, when the time comes.

My friend Paul, in New York state, has a sugarbush with 6500 taps. They often tap wearing snowshoes. I talked with him last week. He said the snow is too soft to hold them up this year. They had spent a whole day wading in waist deep snow to make a repair to his vacuum line. At least I don’t have to do that!!

I will say the snow is beautiful. The trees are all painted white this morning as a winter fog has frozen to all the branches. Jack Frost was busy last night, much to my delight. After all, if we are going to be delayed, we might as well enjoy the view!



Starting Up Again
March 28, 2014, 9:13 am
Filed under: March 2014 | Tags: , ,
Just starting to boil

Just starting to boil

March 28, 2014

After a very cold start to the week, the sap is running again. We will gather later and it looks like, quite a few times over the next several days. Some of this work is usually done in February, but not this year 😮 Winter just won’t let go.

The wood pile is holding out well. The longer pieces have worked out very well. They were easy to load, easy to stack and keep the arch fired nicely. I load the fire every ten minutes. This year it amounts to only four or five pieces of wood each time. Last year, with woodstove sized pieces, I had to put in twice as many.

The ten minute firing method keeps me hopping, but it keeps the sap boiling very intensely. We have to make the water evaporate to get to the yummy syrup hidden in the sweet mixture that flows from the maple trees. This longer, dry, split wood works awesome. Many thanks to the horses for pulling load after load through the mud, to fill the woodshed…and they didn’t say “neigh” once.



Some of Ohio’s Finest
March 23, 2014, 12:08 pm
Filed under: March 2014 | Tags: , , ,
A Yummy small sampling!

A Yummy small sampling!

March 23, 2014

This is just a smaple of some of Ohio’s finest maple syrup. We bottle it in the sugarhouse on a canner just for that purpose. I like the containers that show off our great state. I am Ohio proud.

Last year, we sold over 100 gallons to a wholesaler in Vermont. My syrup crossed the border into that state and became “Vermont” maple syrup. It’s crazy how that works! The good thing is that some resturants who serve maple syrup, serve “Vermont”. I just tell myself that it is mine anyway 😮

We will boil this afternoon. Visitors are coming to see the operation and immerse themselves in a memory of mine. I am so very happy to share! The best thing is that my memory will become their’s… if that don’t make you Ohio Proud… what does?